The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin


We are not quite novels.
We are not quite short stories.
In the end, we are collected works.
A.J. Fikry's lifeis not at all what he expected it to be. His wife has died; his bookstore is experiencing the worst sales in its history; and now his prized possession, a rare collection of Poe poems, has been stolen. Slowly but surely, he is isolating himself from all the people of Alice Island—from Chief Lambiase, the well-intentioned police officer who's always felt kindly toward him; from Ismay, his sister-in-law, who is hell-bent on saving A.J. from his dreary self. Even the books in his store have stopped holding pleasure for him. These days, he can only see them as a sign of a world that is changing too rapidly.
And then a mysterious package appears at the bookstore. It's a small package, though large in weight—an unexpected arrival that gives A.J. the opportunity to make his life over, the ability to see everything anew. And everything to twist again into a version of his life that he didn't see coming.


Re: their date. For a time, the novelty of the circus had distracted from the fact that they had nothing in common. By the end of dinner, the greater truth of their incompatibility had been revealed. Perhaps it should have been obvious from their inability to reach consensus on an appetizer or from his main course admission that he disliked "old things"–antiques, houses, dogs, people. Still, Amelia had not allowed herself to be certain until dessert, when she'd asked him about the book that had had the greatest influence on his life, and he'd replied Principles of Accounting. Part II.

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry is a short book and a fairly quick read (the two aren't necessarily synonymous), it's also a wonderful book about a grumpy bookstore owner, written with a wonderful undertone of dry humor, and it features a wonderful set of characters to fall in love with. Needless to say, I have been telling everyone and their mother (actually, mostly people that like to read but that's just details) that they should read this book because it's amazing and funny and it makes one happy and it's also a little sad but that just makes it more beautiful and– You're catching my drift; I have fallen in love.

Frankly, I've had this book on my radar for a while because I heard from the right people about it (I don't actually remember from whom but I distinctly remember being instantly interested) but I never picked it up even though it's on my library's Overdrive-cloud-thingy (which is one of the best thingies to ever happen to me, but I digress). Until I finally handed in my Bachelor Thesis and I needed a reward and what better reward than reading a book I've been waiting for the infamous perfect time  to read (when the stars align and all stress falls away, preferably during a cold weather period where you can eat cookies and drink tea while reading–you know the fantasy, more importantly, you know it's never reality)? So I picked it up and I instantly fell in love. To be precise, both of the excerpts at the beginning and end of this review are excerpts from the first chapter because that's how fast I fell in love with it.

At first, the book was mostly funny, even if (at times) in a rather depressing and certainly dry kind of way. Then, the book developed feelings and it wasn't just funny anymore but also heart-warming and kind and, well, simply lovely/loveable. At least, however, it also sprouted some sadness and I ended up in tears by the end of the book. That is pretty much a perfect story-arc for me when I'm reading a book. It was one of the best reading-experiences I've had recently.

Lastly, before I wrap this review up, I want to address how little I've actually said about the plot. The thing is, I like going into books without knowing anything about them and I do believe that this is the kind of book that wants to present its surprises to you on its own. Thus, I'd recommend going into this one blind as well.

"You'll notice I didn't call you right away, Amelia, " he says. "I didn't call you because I had met someone better, and when that didn't work out, I decided to give you a second chance. So don't be thinking you're superior. You've got a decent smile, I'll give you that, but your teeth are too big and so is your ass and you're not twenty-five anymore even if you drink like you are. You shouldn't look a gift horse in the mouth." The gift horse begins to cry. 


I fell in love with this little book, hard. Thus, unsurprisingly, I'm giving this one 4.5 out of 5 stars. It might become a new favorite of mine. 


Name: The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry
Deutscher Titel: Die Widerspenstigkeit des Glücks
Author: Gabrielle Zevin
Publisher: Algonquin Books
Pages: 256
Where?: Amazon (English edition), Amazon (deutsche Ausgabe)


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